The Minaturist – Kunal Basu

My first encounter with Kunal Basu, and a good bank holiday read about persian artists in the indian kingdoms of the 16th century. It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste, but I enjoyed the mix of history, art, culture and politics in an exotic setting. The inclusion of a few minatures by way of illustation/example would have enhanced the novel for the non-art historians amongst us!

Buy it: Amazon link

Servants of the Map – Andrea Barrett

Another collection of short stories spanning the 18th to 20th centuries, set mainly in North America, but with the glory explorer days of the British Empire as its starting point.

I really enjoy the way Andrea Barrett gives you a glimpse into her characters’ worlds, and then leaves them there… but then in subsequent stories, about apparently unconnected people, she provides sideways glances at the paths their lives then followed.

This collection starts off with maps and mapping, exploration and discovery and ends up with health and social history. Fascinating, and engaging.

Buy it: Amazon link

The Painter – Will Davenport

A birthday present from Emma, this novel travelled out to Walton and back again before I started it this weekend just gone.

Shuttling between mid-17th century life of down on his luck portrait painter van Rijn (Rembrandt), and 21st century girl Amy Dale, this is shaping up to be a lovely combination of historical novel with a quasi-Changing Rooms slant, and a smidgeon of Joanna Trollope thrown in for good measure.

Reminds me of Michael Frayn’s Headlong, and I suspect that it stems from the current trend in novels about Dutch art. However, as far as I can tell, neither Deborah Moggach’s Tulip Fever, or Tracy Chevalier’s Girl With a Pearl Earring, are set partly in modern day Hull!

Hmm… there’s a hint of Philippa Gregory here too….

Verdict: Haddock review

Buy it: Amazon link

The Road to Jerusalem, The Knight Templar – Jan Guillou

Vols 1 and 2 of The Crusades Trilogy, by swede Jan Guillou, translated by Anna Paterson.

Borrowed from Battersea library in April 2003, and after a slow start, devoured over the chil Easter weekend in Walton (well, Good Friday and Easter Saturday at least).

Verdict: Haddock Review

Haven’t yet come to terms with prospect of waiting until June 2004 to read the third and final book – The Kingdom at the End of the Road.

Buy it: Amazon link

Update – April 2005

I contacted the UK publishers to ask when/if they would be publishing the third and final instalment in the trilogy. The bad news is that they won’t. From the sound of it, the first two weren’t profitable enough. How very annoying.